- I think it's good that we're not embarrassed that we're comic book creators anymore. It's good that people are able to make a good living at doing it, and not doing the traditional sort of mainstream fare.
Jonathan Hickman (born September 3, 1972) is an American comic book writer and artist. He is known for his intricate storylines (that are planned far, far out in advance) which often involved alternate universes, alternate histories, secret conspiracies, time travel, and mad science.
Hickman began his career as a graphic designer, and originally illustrated his own comics (something he hopes to return to at some point). He first made the mini-series The Nightly News before beginning a lucrative career at Marvel. After becoming one of the premier writers at Marvel, he has begun to focus more on his creator-owned books.
His works for Image Comics, including:
- The Nightly News: A sniper starts targeting reporters which turns out to be the first shot in a war between the media and a mysterious, cult-like terrorist cell.
- Pax Romana: In the far future, the catholic church sends a military/religious team back in time to the late Roman empire in hopes of building a better future.
- The Manhattan Projects: A black comedy sci-fi take on historical scientists, beginning with the men behind the atom bomb and stretching forward to the cold war.
- East of West: A sci-fi western set in an alternate future where Death (of the four horsemen) sets out to do battle with the other three. In the mix is Death's family, an apocalypse cult, the seven nations occupying north America and, of course, the world.
His works for Marvel Comics include:
- Fantastic Four: A massive story featuring a battle between five cities, a league of alternate Reed Richards, a future version of the team, and a threat far larger than anyone knows.
- FF: Spinning out from his Fantastic Four run, this book features a new team, based around education, comprised of a number of children of many species, the Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man.
- The Ultimates: Hickman wrote the title's relaunch under the title Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates with artist Esad Ribic (who would later work with Hickman on Secret Wars). Despite it being the best regarded Ultimate Marvel title since Mark Millar's original run, it was buried when DC put out their New 52 book. Thus the book was cancelled early and had a rushed ending by another author.
- Ultimate Hawkeye: and Ultimate Thor, released at the time of The Ultimates, mentioned above.
- Secret Warriors: Following the Secret Invasion even, Nick Fury realizes there has been an enemy manipulating him for years. In response, he forms the titular team of off-the-record children of supervillains to fight a war so secret, his team may not know who they are fighting.
- S.H.I.E.L.D. (2010): Intersecting all of his other Marvel series, this book tells the secret history of SHIELD. Hint: it involves Leonardo Da Vinci.
- Jonathan Hickman's Avengers:
- The Avengers and New Avengers for Marvel NOW. As the Illuminati reforms for a dark purpose, Tony Stark unites with Captain America to make the Avengers larger than ever before. The two series start out telling separate but related stories but slowly become one massive epic.
- Infinity: A spinoff from the Avengers story, this follows Stark's team as they face a small scale invasion, and Cap's team as they take an intergalactic journey to face an ancient enemy of staggering power.
- Secret Wars (2015): The finale of his dual Avengers run and the basis for a linewide crossover, this series recounts the creation of a patchwork world made of alternate Marvel worlds and the eventual war between the government of this "Battleworld" and those who remember a world before.
- Jonathan Hickman's X-Men: With the X-Men becoming a pillar of Marvel once again, Hickman will write the stories House of X and Powers of X, both set to redefine the X-Men's place in the Marvel Universe. Notably, all ongoing X-Men series are being cancelled to make room for him and give Hickman total control, something that no writer has had on the franchise since Chris Claremont. Afterwards, the series will "reboot" in a new status quo known as the Dawn of X, which will start with six new titles in the wake of the two stories. Hickman will continue to write the flagship title while being the architect of the overall relaunch.
- New Mutants (2019): Hickman will co-write the first arc of the relaunch with Ed Brisson, after which Brisson will take over completely. This sees the team take a more sci-fi direction by going to space and teaming up with the Starjammers to find Cannonball.
Tropes related to Jonathan Hickman:
- Alternate History: Hickman often plays with these. East of West is an alternate history but set in the future, Pax Romana is about the creation of alternate history, and The Manhattan Projects is an alternate history on crack.
- Alternate Universe: Shows up in all of his superhero work to the point where Secret Wars (2015) is based in a world made up of pieced together alternate worlds.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Major characters tend to be monochrome, they might be supernatural or alien or something but he tends to have characters that are all one color, still well designed.
- Arc Words: Usually a couple per series:
- Author Appeal:
- He loves charts and cast lists, which is useful given how large-scale his stories are.
- His plots often span millennia across parallel timelines with some method of transit jumping protagonists all over and between them while usually working against immortals living through them.
- Sunspot and Cannonball are among his favorite mutants. When he worked on his landmark Avengers run, he had the two transplanted from X-Men to Avengers, even though it's relatively rare for mutants to be Avengers in general.
- He also seems to have a soft spot for monochrome women. A prime example is Black Swan, from an Amazon Brigade with pitch black skin that all wear white.
- Creator Cameo: Once in The Manhattan Projects as a background soldier (the book has similar cameos by the creators of Chew and others) and once as a crazy person in a police station in Ultimate Spider-Man. Notably his ranting is about being the cause of the events of Secret Wars (2015). He also appeared in FF along with the rest of the creative team to be taken on a shrunken tour in order to get ideas for the comic based on the team...and almost gets eaten by a tiger.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Hickman's stories tend to run on a large scale and have the casts to match.
- Running the Asylum: When Hickman was hired to write the Ultimates, he said this:"I was pretty excited. When I first started at Marvel, one of the gigs I had looked at as a king of home run job was the Ultimates. I loved how Brian and Mark had started things off — how real and large the world felt — and I always thought there was a logical next step to be taken. So here we are, one small step..."
- Time Skip: One plot element that recurs in his works are flash forwards of centuries and millenia to show the potential future outcomes of the present. Oftentimes with an immortal or otherwise long lived character witnessing it all.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: His stories that span thousands of years often involve time travelers trying to manipulate the whole timeline to their ends as well.
- Writing for the Trade: Not just the trade, but the omnibus. His works count several trades as being part of an "arc" that make up a saga that lasts multiple years. Generally, an arc lasts five issues, and the acts have five arcs to them, and there are three acts that make up each saga. That benefit is that his stories are well planned-out and epic in-scope, if a little hard for someone just joining in to get attached.